PLEASE SHARE: The Howard County Police Department encourages residents to protect themselves and their homes from door-to-door scam artists.

Reports of scams and deception burglaries typically increase during spring and summer months. Police are currently investigating a recent case in which an elderly Ellicott City couple lost $14,000 after hiring two men to seal their driveway. The men targeted the couple through door-to-door sales and once hired, entered the residence, saw where the couple kept cash and later stole the money while they were distracted outside.

While this investigation is ongoing, residents can use the following tips to avoid being victimized themselves. Please share this information with family, friends, and neighbors, especially senior citizens, who are sometimes targeted for scams.

Commons types of scams include driveway paving and resealing, tree trimming and removal, utility service for gas or water problems, and roof repairs or inspection.

If someone seems eager to look inside your home, or seems to be trying to distract you, close and lock the door and call 911. Non-emergency solicitor complaints should be directed to 410-313-2200.

If you need work done in your home, follow these tips:
• Request references from prospective contractors
• Be suspicious of unsolicited offers and services
• Don’t feel pressured to make a decision on the spot
• Ask to see contractors’ required license
• Always obtain a written contract for the work
• Don’t share personal or financial information with prospective contractors
• Verify the phone number and physical location of the business before agreeing to any work
• Jot down the license plate of the company vehicle, just in case

While some reputable companies do offer their services door-to-door, they are required to possess a Howard County peddler and solicitor card. Residents should request to see this ID in addition to a company ID.

To report an unregistered sales person, or get more information about shopping for home improvement services, contact the Howard County Office of Consumer Protection by phone at 410-313-6420, by e-mail at consumer@howardcountymd.gov or online at www.howardcountymd.gov/consumertips.

Homeowners can check to see if a contractor is licensed through the Maryland Department of License and Regulation using their Licensing Queries function at http://www.dllr.state.md.us/pq/.

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Here is additional information about the incident in Ellicott City via the HCPD crime log:

Residential burglary

Ellicott City, 21043: 5000 block of Orchard Drive, July 22 5:30-7 p.m.
The residents reported that they hired two men to seal their driveway. Once hired, the suspects entered the residence, saw where the victims kept cash, and later stole approximately $14,000 while they were distracted outside.

SUSPECTS: two Hispanic males, no further description

Sad to read what happened to the residents in Ellicott City…but let that story to serve as a reminder to all of us to be careful when dealing with people visiting door to door in our neighborhoods.

I went ahead and invested in cameras for the front and back of our home (Blink XT2 Outdoor/Indoor Smart Security Camera with cloud storage included, 2-way audio, 2-year battery life). It was a great deal on Amazon Prime Day and still worth the investment at its normal price.

It might also be a good idea to download the “Neighbors” app. You can download this FREE doorbell video-sharing app by texting “HCPD” to 555888 (or just visiting iTunes). You don’t need a doorbell camera to participate!

Scott E